73 F.3d 796 (8th Cir. 1996), 95-1654, Rater v. Chater

Docket Nº:95-1654.
Citation:73 F.3d 796
Party Name:Kenneth C. RATER, Appellant, v. Shirley S. CHATER, Commissioner of Social Security, Appellee.
Case Date:January 10, 1996
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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Page 796

73 F.3d 796 (8th Cir. 1996)

Kenneth C. RATER, Appellant,

v.

Shirley S. CHATER, Commissioner of Social Security, Appellee.

No. 95-1654.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

January 10, 1996

Submitted Oct. 16, 1995.

Robert W. Pratt, Des Moines, Iowa, argued (Max Schott, on the brief), for appellant.

Sally Renee Johnson, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Omaha, Nebraska, argued (Jamie G. Crawford, Assistant Regional counsel, on the brief), for appellee.

Before McMILLIAN, BRIGHT and LOKEN, Circuit Judges.

McMILLIAN, Circuit Judge.

Kenneth Rater appeals from a final order entered in the United States District Court 1 for the District of Nebraska affirming the

Page 797

final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner). Rater v. Shalala, No. 8CV-555, 1995

WL 811933 (D.Neb. Jan. 19, 1995) (Memorandum and Order). Rater applied for disability insurance benefits in March 1992, alleging that he suffered from persistent low back and leg pain stemming from workplace injuries. The district court found that substantial evidence in the record as a whole supported the decision of the administrative law judge (ALJ) that Rater was not disabled and was therefore not entitled to disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. Secs. 401-433. For reversal, Rater argues the ALJ erred in concluding that his former position as "incinerator operator/watcher" constituted "past relevant work" under step four of the sequential evaluation process. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm the order of the district court.

Background

Rater was fifty-eight years old at the time of the administrative hearing. He had completed high school and had attended business school for approximately eleven months. He has worked as a laborer at the Firestone Tire & Rubber (Firestone) plant in Des Moines, Iowa, since April 1968. After injuring his back in a 1981 workplace injury, Firestone placed Rater in a department composed primarily of light-dutied individuals where he operated a machine to "re-roll" cloth banners. In 1983, Rater again injured his back. By the time he returned to work in May 1984, Firestone had substantially eliminated the light-dutied department. Thus, Rater was assigned the position of "incinerator operator/watcher," a job which primarily entailed watching the incinerator and shutting it down if the operator were injured or experienced any other difficulty. Firestone had developed this position to address safety concerns regarding the incinerator. Rater held this position for eleven months, until the company's industrial engineering department restructured the job duties in the incinerator area, thereby eliminating the watcher position.

Rater applied for disability benefits in March 1992, alleging he suffered from persistent low back and leg pain. After his application was administratively denied twice, Rater requested and obtained a hearing. At the...

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